Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance today announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet.
Zigbee Alliance board member companies such as IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also onboard to join the working group and contribute to the project.
The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.
Many Smart Home devices use proprietary protocols today, requiring them to be tethered to a home network using dedicated proxies and translators. By building upon IP, some of these devices may instead be able to connect directly with standardized networking equipment.
The goal of the first specification release will be Wi-Fi, up to and including 802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6), that is 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax; Thread over 802.15.4-2006 at 2.4 GHz; and IP implementations for Bluetooth Low Energy, versions 4.1, 4.2, and 5.0 for the network and physical wireless protocols.
Some companies might focus their product offerings on the protocol over Wi-Fi/Ethernet, while others might target the protocol over Thread or BLE, and still others might support a combination.
Google is contributing two of its market-tested and open-source smart home technologies, Weave and Thread. Both are built on IP and have been integrated into millions of homes around the world. Weave, an application protocol, works over many networks like Thread, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and even cellular. Even when devices are on different networks, Weave allows them all to securely work with each other.
The industry working group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol. The project intends to use contributions from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others. The decision to leverage these technologies is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol, and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster.
The project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. The planned protocol will complement existing technologies, and working group members encourage device manufacturers to continue innovating using technologies available today.
Amazon had launched a similar initiative earlier this year that allows users to access Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and multiple other voice-controlled virtual assistant services from a single device.
The Working Group has a goal to release a draft specification and a preliminary reference open source implementation in late 2020.